IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/htr/hcecon/401.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

The Causes of Slavery or Serfdom and the Roads to Agrarian Capitalism: Domar's Hypothesis Revisited

Author

Abstract

I propose a simple general equilibrium formalization of Domar's famous hypothesis on the causes of slavery or serfdom that emphasizes the interactions between factor endowments, the nature of the production technologies, and the initial distribution of property rights over land. The model provides a framework within which to understand the choice between slavery, serfdom, and free labor and tenancy equilibria with or without bonded labor-service obligations. The model also sheds light on the `Agrarian Question' regarding why some otherwise similar regions transitioned to free-labor agrarian capitalism via an `American road' dominated by independent family farms while others followed a `Junker road' with production dominated by large estates surrounded by small semi-proletarianized peasant households. The model is built around an otherwise canonical general equilibrium trade model adapted to allow for the endogenous emergence of land oligopoly and labor oligopsony power distortions that shape the pattern of agrarian production organization.

Suggested Citation

  • Jonathan Conning, 2004. "The Causes of Slavery or Serfdom and the Roads to Agrarian Capitalism: Domar's Hypothesis Revisited," Economics Working Paper Archive at Hunter College 401, Hunter College Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:htr:hcecon:401
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://econ.hunter.cuny.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/6/RePEc/papers/HunterEconWP401.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Eswaran, Mukesh & Kotwal, Ashok, 1986. "Access to Capital and Agrarian Production Organisation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 96(382), pages 482-498, June.
    2. Domar, Evsey D., 1970. "The Causes of Slavery or Serfdom: A Hypothesis," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 30(01), pages 18-32, March.
    3. T. Bergstrom, 1971. "On the Existence and Optimality of Competitive Equilibrium for a Slave Economy," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 38(1), pages 23-36.
    4. Bhaduri, Amit, 1973. "A Study in Agricultural Backwardness under Semi-Feudalism," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 83(329), pages 120-137, March.
    5. Bulow, Jeremy I & Geanakoplos, John D & Klemperer, Paul D, 1985. "Multimarket Oligopoly: Strategic Substitutes and Complements," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(3), pages 488-511, June.
    6. Fenoaltea, Stefano, 1975. "Authority, Efficiency, and Agricultural Organization in Medieval England and Beyond: A Hypothesis," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 35(04), pages 693-718, December.
    7. Findlay, Ronald, 1975. "Slavery, Incentives, and Manumission: A Theoretical Model," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(5), pages 923-933, October.
    8. Binswanger, Hans P. & Deininger, Klaus & Feder, Gershon, 1995. "Power, distortions, revolt and reform in agricultural land relations," Handbook of Development Economics,in: Hollis Chenery & T.N. Srinivasan (ed.), Handbook of Development Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 42, pages 2659-2772 Elsevier.
    9. Deininger, Klaus & Binswanger, Hans P, 1995. "Rent Seeking and the Development of Large-Scale Agriculture in Kenya, South Africa, and Zimbabwe," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 43(3), pages 493-522, April.
    10. Pastore, Mario Hector, 1990. "La hipotesis de Domar sobre las causas de la servidumbre o la esclavitud en una colonia hispanoamericana: contraste y reformulacion," Revista de Historia Económica, Cambridge University Press, vol. 8(03), pages 575-589, December.
    11. Robert J. Thornton, 2004. "Retrospectives: How Joan Robinson and B. L. Hallward Named Monopsony," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(2), pages 257-261, Spring.
    12. Feenstra, Robert C., 1980. "Monopsony distortions in an open economy: A theoretical analysis," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(2), pages 213-235, May.
    13. Chwe, Michael Suk-Young, 1990. "Why Were Workers Whipped? Pain in a Principal-Agent Model," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(403), pages 1109-1121, December.
    14. Genicot, Garance, 2002. "Bonded labor and serfdom: a paradox of voluntary choice," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 101-127, February.
    15. Sadoulet, Elisabeth, 1992. "Labor-Service Tenancy Contracts in a Latin American Context," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(4), pages 1031-1042, September.
    16. Kenneth L. Sokoloff & Stanley L. Engerman, 2000. "Institutions, Factor Endowments, and Paths of Development in the New World," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 217-232, Summer.
    17. James R. Markusen & Arthur J. Robson, 1980. "Simple General Equilibrium and Trade with a Monopsonized Sector," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 13(4), pages 668-682, November.
    18. Roemer, John E, 1982. "Origins of Exploitation and Class: Value Theory of Pre-Capitalist Economy," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(1), pages 163-192, January.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. A quick, uninformed, probably wrong, and completely unoriginal resolution to the "Brenner Paradox"
      by YouNotSneaky! in YouNotSneaky on 2009-01-31 14:34:00

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Daron Acemoglu & Alexander Wolitzky, 2011. "The Economics of Labor Coercion," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 79(2), pages 555-600, March.
    2. Bobonis, Gustavo J. & Morrow, Peter M., 2014. "Labor coercion and the accumulation of human capital," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 32-53.
    3. James A. Robinson & Ragnar Torvik, 2011. "Institutional Comparative Statics," NBER Working Papers 17106, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Fenske, James, 2010. "Institutions in African history and development: A review essay," MPRA Paper 23120, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. James Fenske, 2012. "Land abundance and economic institutions: Egba land and slavery, 1830–1914," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 65(2), pages 527-555, May.
    6. Jonathan Conning & Michael Kevane, 2005. "Freedom, Servitude and Voluntary Contract," Economics Working Paper Archive at Hunter College 408, Hunter College Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Monoposony; agrarian organization; inequality; tenancy; slavery; serfdom.;

    JEL classification:

    • J42 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Monopsony; Segmented Labor Markets
    • J43 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Agricultural Labor Markets
    • L1 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance
    • Q12 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Micro Analysis of Farm Firms, Farm Households, and Farm Input Markets
    • Q15 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Land Ownership and Tenure; Land Reform; Land Use; Irrigation; Agriculture and Environment
    • F11 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Neoclassical Models of Trade

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:htr:hcecon:401. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Jonathan Conning). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/dhcunus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.